Too often, when parents divorce, even fathers who share custody of their children with their mother end up becoming less involved in their daughters’ lives than in their sons’. Researchers have found that father-daughter relationships suffer more when parents divorce than father-son relationships do.
You may have well-meaning people tell you that your daughter needs her mom more than you. You may believe you’re not equipped to deal with the problems girls (especially pre-teens and teens) are facing. Nonetheless, it’s crucial for men to work toward a custody arrangement and parenting plan that keep them involved in their daughters’ lives.
A role model and influencer
A girl’s father is typically her first male role model – and the one most likely to affect what she expects from other males throughout her life. A girl who has a close, healthy relationship with her dad will be more likely to expect boys and men to treat her well as she gets older – in personal and professional relationships.
That doesn’t mean giving in to everything she wants – which is an all-too-common mistake that parents make when they feel guilty about their divorce and decreased time with their kids. Kids learn negative lessons from being able to manipulate people by using their guilt against them.
Girls aren’t just influenced by how their fathers treat them, but also by how they see them treat other women – particularly their mother. It’s only natural to have some negative feelings about your co-parent during and after divorce. However, airing those feelings in front of your daughter (or any of your children) will make them wonder how you feel about them, since that’s their parent as well.
Girls have always had body image issues, but they can be even more serious today with carefully curated and photoshopped images of females all over social and other media coming at them constantly. Having a dad who doesn’t comment, even teasingly, on her body is important. Commenting on other females’ physical appearance – positively or negatively – can lead your daughter to believe that this is what all men prioritize.
Being a “girl dad” comes with numerous challenges, and divorce can make it even harder. That’s all the more reason to seek the parental rights you and your daughter deserve.